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Alshon Jeffery rebuts WRs coach, says not behind

He is one of the NFL’s most curious case studies, a Birkenstock-loving control freak who parlayed an off-the-beaten-path collegiate experience into a starring role in one of America’s most hypercritical sports cities.

Now firmly entrenched as the Philadelphia Eagles’ franchise quarterback, was characteristically proactive during the dog days of summer, hosting eight of the team’s receivers in early July for a de facto passing camp in Fargo, where he starred for FCS power North Dakota State. In addition to several days of workouts, Wentz treated his guests to a lakeside barbecue, jet-ski rides and paddle-boarding excursions, and a grand time was had by all.

Added Jeffery: “It’s the game of football. Every once in a while you’re going to run a wrong route, make some mistakes on a few plays. But I’ll be all right.”

Jeffery caught two of five targets for 23 yards in just 17 snaps in his first preseason action last week. Even with the botched route, Carson Wentz showed his willingness to feed the ball to his new receiver (target every 3.4 snaps). With 20 days until the regular season opener, Jeffery has plenty of time to catch up on anything he’s behind on before the games count.

As for fantasy, the swap of Watkins for Jordan Matthews is not a 1-to-1 move, as they’re vastly different players. Matthews plays predominantly in the slot and is more likely a replacement for Robert Woods (signed with the Rams this offseason) than Watkins. In 2016, Matthews played 58 percent of his snaps in the slot, which is also where most of his production came from (84 targets, 54 receptions, 604 yards, two touchdowns). For Buffalo last year, Woods accumulated 54 percent of his targets and 62 percent of his yards from the slot.

This move is also interesting after the Bills just signed veteran Anquan Boldin, who played 81 percent of his snaps last year in Detroit either in the slot or tight to the line. Matthews will likely lead the team in targets, while Zay Jones will be tasked with providing an outside/deep threat like Watkins used to. This move is a good one for Matthews’ fantasy stock as he escapes the crowded Eagles wide receiver room, but it can’t be seen as a positive for Tyrod Taylor. With the Bills already featuring a low-volume passing attack (32nd and 31st in the league in pass attempts in the last two years), losing the big-play ability of Watkins depresses Taylor’s fantasy ceiling. He’ll still be able to rack up points with his legs, but this is bad news for Taylor’s late-round quarterback credentials.

While a majority of Eagles fans would agree, this qualifies as news because some owners around the league are willing to bail on an experiment after just one season. It would be dangerous and ludicrous for the Eagles to dump Pederson a year after hiring him, especially after he hand-selected a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. The Eagles have had some bright moments this year despite the complete lack of a dependable wide receiver and, by all accounts, Wentz looks to be on his way to being a top-12 quarterback next season.

There is always an attractiveness to the unknown; could this year’s coaching class deliver another ? It’s possible. But for a team with so much already in motion, changing coaches would be downright insane. The Eagles (5-8) have a chance to play some good football down the stretch against quality opponents with a lot to play for. Beating the Ravens (7-6) would go a long way toward quieting any discussion about the coach’s future in Philly.

Here’s what made it all the more exciting: Ross has been a fan of DeSean Jackson’s for years, and has since built a friendship with him. Jackson, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was chosen by the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft. The connection wasn’t lost on Ross.

The Eagles got the only chance to host Ross on a visit for a while, because he’ll undergo shoulder surgery on Tuesday to repair his right labrum. Ross said he hopes to resume visiting other NFL clubs within a week or two of the procedure, and expects to begin the rehabilitation process as early as Wednesday. As for his pro day, Ross went through position drills only — after running a combine-record 4.22 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, there wasn’t much to prove — and felt good about his performance.

Runager played 11 seasons in the NFL after being drafted out of South Carolina by Philadelphia in the eighth round in 1979. He spent his first five years with the Eagles, losing the Super Bowl following the 1980 season before joining San Francisco in 1984.

The Niners went 15-1 his first season and beat Miami for the title. Runager played four seasons for San Francisco and came back for one game in 1988. He also played four seasons for Cleveland.

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